If we want to touch the question very scientifically we have to realise that the term amphetamines refer to a group of three different but structurally very similar chemicals; levo-amphetamine (Benzedrine), dextroamhetamine (Dexedrine) and metamphetamine (Methedrine). Each is in close relationship with Ephedrine, which is a general stimulant and can be found in the plants belonging to the genus Ephedra. In the last century this stimulant was imported from China for the purposes of modern medication. The fear that stocks would dry up forced the pharmaceutical companies to produce cheap synthetic drugs.
It was during that time amphetamine came to light. It was first synthetised in Germany by Edelane in 1887 and was used first as medicine in 1920. Similarly to ephedrine, amphetamine also dilates the alveoli in the lungs relieving the asthmatic attacks. This feature brought success for Benzedrine, an inhalant, which appeared on the market in 1932. In a short time amphetamine became a hit medicine among asthmatics and those suffering from high temperature and the drug produced in the form of pills started to sweep the world. Doctors preferred to prescribe it for every kind of illnesses and conditions such as depression, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, night-blindness, obesity, impotency, hyperactivity and old age depression.
World War II gave an additional impulse to the success of the story because millions of tablets were given to soldiers on both sides. Although the main reason for this was to spin up the energy metabolism of the body and maintain the ability to concentrate, the usage of the drug evoked aggression in several cases.
From 1942 Hitler also got metamphetamine injections on a regular basis, which, besides his other psychological problems, considerably contributed to ruin his health condition and his ability to make sober decisions.
After the war in the 50`s and in the 60`s the amphetamine containing drugs remained popular especially in the treatment of depression and obesity. But because of the serious side-effects and the appearance of more effective drugs these drugs were also slowly withdrawn form circulation.
Nowadays amphetamines have other meaning. The risk of becoming accustomed or addicted to this chemical made it a pillar of drugs.
The air is full with dynamism. The music and the lights dictate the rhythm without control. The waving limbs and the flashing piercings tempt the dropped in newcomers into the smoky cloud that comes up from time to time.
Beside a loudspeaker, there are two guys with a bottle of beer in their hands, staring at three young girls chatting some meters from them. The fizzling has been going on at least for half an hour and sometimes even their look meets for a short time when a well dressed guy steps to the cocktail drinking girls. The two guys jealously keep their eyes on the "newcomer". They nervously take a sip of beer from the nearly empty bottle when the newcomer puts his right hand in his pocket and takes a small box out. He looks back and his eyes meet with those of the two guys staring at him. He becomes undecided and touches his nose nervously and pushes the small box back into his pocket firmly. Stepping on the side he gets embedded into the permanently pulsating body mass and disappears in a second. The two guys catch each other's eye and one of them pushing the other with his elbow, nods in the direction where the girls are staying. They go ahead...
It is already two o'clock when some noises and jostling develop in the balcony. The falling beer bottle breaks and disperses the youth staying around. Only one guy stays there in a white T-shirt, out of breath and totally exhausted. He bends over the ground powerlessly while from the background distinct shouting can be heard. Coming closer, the words have meaning. A well built guy bends down over his crouching friend and starts to shout nervously pushing the music into the background.
"I knew that it was you! Weren't you able to control yourself again? Why on earth did you have to do this?" He stays up looking around provocatively and goes on:
"Where is that dick? Tell me where is that bastard? I'll kill him right now..."
In the meantime the newcomer gets in a 730 BMW waiting beside the disco, nods to his two fellows sitting in the car and they roll out from the graveled parking place.
One and half an hour later the car has already been parking calmly in the courtyard. The garage of the glancing car with leather seats and inlays is now the unfriendly police yard with course basalt stones. Sitting beside the 20 W light bulbs the three guys spend those practically few but unusually long hours with some very inquiring detectives longing to talk to them.
The catch is: 57 pieces of Ecstasy tablets, 14x1 g amphetamine sulphate in small nylons, 15 g "ICE" which is relatively seldom, 8 needles and the daily income.
The seized arsenal represents the most frequently occurring amphetamines in Hungary.
These drugs are the most widespread disco-drugs. These mainly affect the central nervous system. Getting into the brain they force the neurons for higher dopamine production. Dopamine is one of the messenger molecules in the brain.
Our brain is the network of billions of neurons. They are connected to each other by their extensions. At the ends of these extensions, in small vesicles, are found those molecules (neurotransmitters), which transmit messages from one cell to the adjacent one. In rest these molecules accumulate in the vesicles and when a stimulus runs through the neuron they become free and make the adjacent neurons active. This process goes on from cell to cell.
Getting into the brain amphetamines spread and they savagely intervene in this process. They have an effect on those neurons that use dopamine as a neurotransmitter and play a role in evoking happiness. The high dopamine level informs the brain about our desire for more strength, energy, self-confidence and willingness to do anything, which makes us extraordinarily spun up and euphoric.
The body submits itself to the feeling and in a minute it switches itself for an increased rhythm. The heart beats and breathing speed up, pupils and arteries dilate and each process involved in emptying the energy stores (liver, fat, muscles) is activated. The effect lasts for a couple of hours and the hyperactivity drastically uses up the energy reserves. This situation is worsened by the fact that sensation of hunger is pushed into the background and that is why the body does not feel that there is need for energy supply. In the meantime the different feelings become more and more intense without any further intake of amphetamine. The explanation for this is simple: in contrast with cocaine, amphetamines cannot be broken down so effectively, consequently they free newer and newer dopamine molecules, evoking such feeling in the individual that he/she believes that he/she is able to rule the whole world...
However, the effect has to end. Sooner or later the moment comes when euphoria and self-confidence starts disappearing. The feeling of being spun up and sometimes aggressive ceases. Limbs suddenly become heavy and every movement causes some problems.
Where has the bursting feeling disappeared to? Where is the incredible energy?
Simply, the uncontrolled spinning totally empties the energy reserves of the body causing general fatigue, which can last even for two or three days. Besides this, the lack of dopamine causes mild depression that can become severe if some negative feelings of life develop.
Because of the slowliness of metabolism there is lots of amphetamine in the brain and the small vesicles at the ends of the neurons are absolutely empty. This comes from the fact that neurons always have to retrieve the free transmitters but it takes some time and the increased dopamine use required by amphetamine is simply too fast for the compensation and the result is well-known.
Certainly the effects depend highly on the user: not everybody is sensitive in the same way for the same drug. It also depends on the mood but it is not certain that someone being under the weather can be spun up by some drugs. On the other hand, the purity of drugs is also a key factor; it is not the same when somebody takes a drug of 1-2 % or 35-40% purity. The user can never be sure what he gets for his money because profit is the driving force of this multi-level business. That is the reason why different additives are given to the drugs in several cases. These additives are sometimes more dangerous and toxic, especially given directly into the bloodstream, than the drug (amphetamine) itself.
Overdose is very simple by needles because of the fast absorption. Moreover, the use of unsterile needles also hide further dangers such as getting infected by HIV, hepatitis or, in the case of dirty needles, by tetanus, which can also lead to death.
Besides the dangers above, the 4-6 hour intensive spinning absolutely exhausts the body. During the hyperactive period, accompanied by increased heartbeat, breathing and dilated pupils, the body is able to totally use up its energy resources, while eating and sleeping are pushed in the background. This, however, can last only for a certain time because our body always demands the missing energy and sleep to be retrieved. Such a drastic use of the energy reserves of the body considerably lowers the resistance against diseases, which may have serious effects on our general health.
Consuming larger doses can cause mental disturbances like hallucinations, anxiety, panic and/or paranoid feeling. The burst of blood vessels in the brain as a consequence of high blood pressure has caused death in several cases.
Frequent and regular use may cause addiction. It means that larger and larger doses are required to reach the required effect. In addition irreversible problems can occur in the heart and the blood system especially in those users, whose blood pressure is originally higher than normal or in women, who take contraceptive pills.
The most frequent cause of disco accidents is driving under the effect of drugs or alcohol. Over-speeding and loosing control over the car are the typical effects of the use of amphetamines (Ecstasy!). The driver usually goes on to the opposite side causing a head-on collision or ends up in a ditch. Observations show that the use of any small amount of amphetamine can cause sudden changes (aggression, euphoria, depression), which can endanger safe traffic.
Like the use of other drugs causing positive experiments for us, the use of amphetamine has also the risk of becoming dependent or addicted. In the case of psychological dependence the user feels that the drug gives a spiritual support to his normal life, but giving up the drug does not cause any withdrawal symptoms. In these cases the drug itself does not manipulate the biochemical system of the body. In the case of physical dependence, however, the regular intake of the drug changes "the chemical program" of the body and every movement is motivated by only one aim: getting the drug.